Instead of control, competition, stress, standardized testing, screen-based schools & loosened teacher qualifications, try warmth, collaboration, & highly professionalized, teacher-led encouragement & assessment.
For years we have talked about why countries like Switzerland, China, & Finland grossly outperform America in the educational arena. As we embark on the precipice of the shift happening in public education, it is time to take a critical lens to the nuts & bolts behind these countries’ success. Finland has long been known for creating a system of top-notch educators, shattering the status quo in teacher preparation, & providing students with quality learning environments that truly embrace them where they are. This article, How Finland broke every rule – and created a top school system by William Doyle further expounds on this country’s success through his experience in a Finnish 4th grade classroom.
American school teachers & school leaders who battle with classroom management programs, procedures, & processes could glean major takeaways from Finland’s approach. According to 4th grade Finnish teacher, Jussi Hietava, he allows his students “to slouch, wiggle & giggle from time to time if they want to, since that’s what children are biologically engineered to do, in Finland, America, Asia & everywhere else.” With respect to the biological mindset & proclivities of an elementary-aged students, Finnish schooling works with students natural selves versus against it creating a peaceful & effective progression for both the student & the teacher to continue exploring the teaching & learning process.
Not only does the system embrace children mentally, but they also embrace teacher leaders as the professionals they are. Doyle notes that teacher leaders are, “not strait-jacketed by bureaucrats, scripts or excessive regulations, but have the freedom to innovate & experiment as teams of trusted professionals.” With such elevated status matching that of medical doctors, lawyers, & Harvard professors, Finnish teachers are highly coveted professionals that require a Masters degree along with specializations simply to lead a classroom! This speaks volumes to the level of systemic impact possible for other countries that do not place the same value on the teaching profession. As Time magazine so poignantly conveyed the plight that American public school teachers face simply to make ends meet, there are far-reaching takeaways that we can take from the Finnish system in taking the first steps to re-branding American public education.
Check out the full article below, & I want to hear from other school leaders & teacher leaders. What are some other takeaways we can glean from international public education? What course of action is necessary to begin re-branding the American public school system?